With styles changing every season we often feel the pressure to continue buying new clothes to keep up with the latest fashion trends. We are barraged by stores like H&M, Zara and Forever 21, who sell cheap clothes meant to wear out in a couple months to keep the consumer stream flowing. These retailers use cheap labor and cheap materials to cut costs and appeal to consumers. This cycle of planned obsolescence (when companies make products that are meant to wear out) is taking a serious toll on our planet and it is time to rethink how we consume clothes. A recent NPR article on fast fashion estimated that 15.1 million tons of textile waste was generated in 2013, that is the weight of about 375,000 semi trucks.
Unfortunately most companies that produce ethical and sustainable clothes tend to cost a little more, but in the end it is worth saving up for a well-made shirt that is going to last years instead of opting for the cheap one that will wear out in just months.
Instead of buying a new wardrobe every couple of months, buy ethically made clothes that will last and pair them with a few new pieces to make your wardrobe feel new again. There are lots of easy ways to decrease your fashion footprint while remaining fashion forward.
The 3 R’s come in handy here, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
Reduce: Buy fewer clothes that are higher quality and will last years instead of months.
Reuse: Repurpose your old clothes with DIY alterations or shop at consignment, vintage or thrift stores to give a used piece of clothing a second life.
Recycle: Don’t just toss your old clothes in the trash, take them to your local thrift store or homeless shelter (check online to see where you can donate clothes in your city).